Book - Vurt


Kneel Downe takes a look at a Jeff Noon classic...

Released in 1993 and going on to win the Arthur C Clarke award in 1994 Vurt was and still is a debut novel of quite breathtaking and mind bending scope.Set within the confines of a future twisted Manchester the book concerns the increasingly frantic attempts of Scribble, Beetle and the rest of the Stash Riders to rescue one of their own, lost within the alternate reality known as Vurt.

The world beyond the major cities is desolate and scarred; populated by zombies and the ever moving lorries that ferry supplies from one city to the next. The unemployed survive on drip feed and the illicit temptations of a mysterious otherworld known as Vurt but is it a drug, a computer game or a combination of both?

The world of Vurt is a fascinating one, accessed by placing colour coded feathers into the mouth. Gaming references abound and yet the nagging suspicion that this is not just a programmed reality persist. The world shifts and changes around you and god pray for you if you happen to lose someone in there; rumour has it that you will never get them back.Heavily influenced by the music and drug culture of 90’s Manchester the novel is far more than just a metaphor for those hedonistic times. Noon fires concepts and images at you in a truly scattergun style; his confidence and fluidity belying the fact that this is a debut work. Some of these concepts would be explored in later books and short stories. Many remain unexplained, left to linger and fester in your mind for years to come.Hailed as the new Gibson, indeed many drew parallels between this work and Neuromancer, Noon went on to produce more novels based around this world, as well as several stand alone works, including the excellent and unsettling Falling Out of Cars.

Image courtesy of Amazon.

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